5 links from the past week
- Writing in the California Sunday Magazine, Nadja Drost reports from coastal Colombia and Panama’s densely jungled Darién Gap, where she finds migrants from Cameroon, Pakistan, Bangladesh and elsewhere. This is the most dangerous, and one of the least reported-on, stages of the journey that many “extra-continental” migrants take to the United States.
- Jeremy McDermott of InsightCrime led an investigation that appears as a multi-part narrative about alias “Memo Fantasma,” a Colombian paramilitary drug trafficker who has a low profile, friends in high places, and a remarkable ability to get away with it: he now lives in Spain.
- The UN Verification Mission in Colombia has published its latest quarterly report on the country’s peace process. Among the many facts and statistics is an especially troubling one: in the first 84 days of 2020, the UN Human Rights office “received 56 complaints regarding killings of social leaders and human rights defenders, 6 of which have been verified.” That’s exactly one reported murder every one and a half days. (The NGO INDEPAZ counts 71 in 87 days.)
- Víctor Mijares and Alejandro Cardozo Uzcátegui write about civil-military relations in Venezuela, where civilians have gained supremacy over the military through “the disarticulation of the military nucleus by means of de-professionalization, degradation of operative ranks, and politicization of all its spaces.” (The article appears in Foreign Affairs Latinoamérica, which has generously made its entire current issue available free of charge. Several articles are worth a read, though their authors are overwhelmingly male and they unavoidably offer a snapshot of the pre-COVID-19 reality.)
- At El Faro, Valeria Guzmán documents what happens after populist President Nayib Bukele offers a $300 handout to 1.5 million of El Salvador’s neediest citizens, who cannot work because of the coronavirus emergency. People end up forced to throng chaotically outside closed offices, in dangerously close quarters, as they wait to get paid.